Saturday, June 10, 2006

Parenting: Bedtime Stories

I still remember when I was five, I mentioned to a fellow Kindergartener that my dad had read us a bedtime story the night before. She looked at me with distain and announced, "I'm too old for that now." I felt sorry for her and surprised that one could outgrow bedtime stories.

My oldest is 12 and we still read bedtime stories to him. At bedtime (often after 9--we're night owls), everyone is called to brush teeth, don pajamas and run to our bedroom where we cuddle up for stories. Liam, of course, picks the traditional kids' books on trucks, Curious George, Richard Scary, and the like. Alex is more science-minded. For awhile, Alex insisted we read Time Life's Dangerous Sea Creatures probably not the best choice right before our vacation to the beaches of Puerto Rico. This week, however, I've been reading my latest Dragon Eye story and a tour guide of Puerto Rico. As you can guess, it is after 10 before we're ready to tuck everyone in.

We love bedtime stories. It's a chance to come together as a family when we may have been apart with lessons, computers and television. It's also a chance to share literature the kids may not otherwise get into. Steven resisted hearing the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when we first suggested it; now he's asking us to read the series for the third time. I'd never read Anne of Green Gables and loved sharing it with my daughter (and sons!). How many pre-teens would willingly tackle a tome like Don Quixote? Yet we are all enjoying the story. Some nights, the kids want to make up stories; though usually we're so riled up and giggling afterwards no one wants to sleep. Sometimes, too, one of the children will read; Alex, 7, has been reading to us out of his "Eyewitness: Big Cats" book.

When the kids head to college, they probably will never tell their dormmates that they had bedtime story routine well into their teens. Or maybe they will, and in the telling of it, make their friends jealous. My hope is they remember these nights of tales and togetherness and continue them on in their own families.

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